Sunday, 11 July 2021

Success is like building sandcastles - Peter Yeo

ST this morning features a 75-year-old man who has given me a point of inflection towards a certain hope. 

The man is Peter Yeo Toon Joo who was a news editor for ST, Noon Daily and New Nation. He was also marketing manager of The Singapore Monitor. 

Journalist Lee Siew Hua interviewed him via email and here is his eye-opening journey.

“His catalogue of trauma started with hepatitis that almost killed him at age 13. In adult life, he suffered two heart attacks, skin cancer, a tumour in the scrotum, bone marrow failure and bone cancer.”

”He survived a head-on collision with a cab, and also a near plane crash. In 1984, the aircraft (he) was flying in suddenly plunged in mid-air over Germany with flames spewing from its wings.”

Indomitable, Peter never gave up on life. A man his age has gone through a major part of life’s journey, and as Elton John would say, “He’s still standing” - even if he has to carry a portable oxygen concentrator around. 

That portable life support was with him because in 2010 he was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (“IPF”). “This causes scar tissue to build up in the lungs, depriving (Peter) of oxygen.” Talk about never catching a break in life.

Peter explains what IPF means: “We end up grasping for air, even with the least exertion. Death comes through asphyxiation, just like drowning.”

Peter definitely has a story to tell at 75, a witness to life from cradle to two near death experiences. 

He recounted that while undergoing surgery in 1989 and 1991, he had two out-of-body experiences, which he said transformed him. “I went to hell...(it) changed me completely and banished forever my fear of death.”

“Those hellish experiences, with tormenting playbacks of his past high-living life when he partied, drank and womanised, turned his life around.”

Peter said: “My desire is to use my story to encourage those who are ill, in distress and live in fear of their sickness and death.”

And what have been keeping Peter from giving up are his wife, Rosalind (72), married for 51 years, his love of life, his sense of humour, his circle of friends, and his Christian faith. 

In fact, when he was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 2010, doctors gave him 2 years to live, 5 years max. Yet, today he is still alive and kicking, even if he has to push his oxygen concentrator around.

As a backdrop, Peter retired in 1998, when he was 53, and travelled the world. He took in many precious breaths of life he was given to drive long distances in his Mercury Cougar sports coupe, playing with his four grandsons, and embracing sports since young like boxing, swimming, football, rugby, badminton and pumping iron. 

Peter said: “My last swim was in early 2020 when I nearly drowned as I ran out of air while doing a very slow lap in a pool.” His primary caregiver Dr Diane Tuffel, told him: “You are the fittest sick person I have ever treated.”

Lesson? One. And, who am I kidding? There are not many Peter kind in our world. We all live our lives differently. We overcome at our own pace. We may have the same stubborn heart that beats for life, yet our struggles are different too. 

Peter is who he is today because of so many factors, genetic as well as circumstances. His life is rather unique and his story is too. 

In the long journey of life, most arduous when you are forced at various crossroads to sit down and have a long, sapping dialogue of silence with your own mortality, your story is less of an objective narrative and more of a subjective one.

Reality is therefore how you experience it, and that experience is vicerally personal, intensely intimate, and so is the pain and the hope, both in tears of torment and joy. No two realities are thus the same.

However, while experiences and stories differ, what we all share when we go through such trying times is that we often see things clearly, with profound depth that words mostly fall short. And life opens up too when death closes the gap with every ponderous breath taken. 

At life’s edge, Peter drew the distinction between the fear of death and dying. “I now fear nothing, definitely not death. Only the process of dying, that could be tough, traumatic and agonising for an IPF patient.”

He said: “The only thing I have difficulty reconciling myself to is the pain of ageing too fast and being ill.” Well, that may just be what many of us would experience too - not so much the dread of the end, but the process that brings it all to the end. 

Alas, in all his achievements, being a news editor, a consultant in public relations, advertising and marketing communications, and being able to retire at 53 to travel the world, Peter comes to this reflection about life: “Success is like building sandcastles.”

And this is what he shared about a life pursuing pleasure: “Some of you in the business world may know of Yeo Toon Joo, No. 2 man in New Nation, who wasn’t exactly the nicest of men at all - in the office and at home. And a heavy drinker until he almost died...I tried almost everything to find pleasure.”

Now, facing the sunset of his life, Peter said: “I have a very good and loving caregiver in my wife, Rosalind.” 

Truly, death concentrates the mind wonderfully, and in life’s crucible, what really matters after the furnace fire burns itself out is the people who are still around by your side, holding your hands, and sharing your pain and joy. 

In such a life, there are no sandcastles that the tides of time can ever wash away. Neither is a life dedicated to such enduring pursuit ever wasted, because as poet Kahlil Gibran challenges us to ask: “Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?”

That was the unquenchable thirst that Peter had to give up when he said, “I tried almost everything to find pleasure” before he found his well of living waters that will never run out.

And that may also be why he is able to say this about the broken sting of death - “Death, when it comes, would only be a change of address, to a new domicile.”


GCB - Part 1.


This morning is about the tale of two successful lives. 

One is the 28-year-old co-founder of Secretlab. Ian Alexander Ang’s Secretlab had sold its millionth ergonomic chair last year. His company now employs around 200 staff “making about one million chairs a year that are sold to 60 countries.”

He is featured today in ST because he had just splashed out $51 million on two luxury properties, that is, a good class bungalow in Caldecott Hill and a penthouse near the Botanic Gardens. 

At 28, Ian is the youngest winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year title. Needless to say, Ian is the envy and the talk of the town. I guess some parents would love to have him for a son-in-law. 

Alas, most of the young adult his age is struggling with their career and maybe family, wondering how they will provide for their kids’ future?

For Ian, his business acumen paid off, and with timely providence and persistence, money will be the least of his concerns. His family and loved ones should be proud of his achievements at such a young age. 

The other successful life comes with much less flamboyance. There is no good class bungalow or penthouse to talk about. He is much older, 76 years old, born in 1945. I stumbled upon his life in my previous post many years ago 

He came from a good family and was educated in one of the most prestigious schools in India. At twenty, he was destined to be a doctor, an engineer or maybe a top official of the World Bank. His career was hitched to the stars. His mother was so proud of him.

Then, one day (in 1965), a terrible famine broke out in the province of Bihar, one of the poorest states of India. This young man went with a friend of Gandhi to visit the distressed state. When he returned, completely transformed, he told his mother that he wanted to go live in the village. 

"What are you going to do in the village?" she shrieked. He replied, "To work as an unskilled laborer, digging well." His mother almost went into a coma - he recounted. 

Before he left, the other members of the family comforted his mother saying: "Don't worry, like all teenagers, he's having his crisis of idealism. After toiling there for a few weeks, he'll soon become disillusioned and will come home." 

These words soon lost its consolating effect as weeks turned to months and months turned to years and years to decades. Altogether, Sanjit "Bunker" Roy (“Roy”) went to live in the village for 40 years and counting. Yes, you heard it right - 40 long years. For six years, Roy dug three hundred wells with a pneumatic drill in the countryside of Rajasthan. 

Naturally, his mother refused to talk to him and the village he resided didn't understand his reasons for doing what he did. A typical dialogue went something like this:-

"Are you running away from the police?"


"Did you fail your exams?"


"Were you unable to get a government job?"


Obviously, someone of his social and academic standing was a sore thumb in the poor village. But Roy didn't forsake the villages. He continued doing the work of digging wells. 

After some time, he realised that men were rather "untrainable". He remarked that after the men leave the village to find work in the cities, they contributed nothing to help their village. 

So, he educated young women, especially young grandmothers (35 to 50 yrs) who had lots of time in their hands. He trained them to be "solar engineers" to set up solar panels in the villages. 

Roy even founded the Barefoot College where he trained up teachers with no college degree but "shared their experience based on years of practice." It was a simple community and no one was paid more than 100 euros a month. 

Roy even came up with ways to fill up and replenish large tanks of water in every village to satisfy their yearly needs so that women do not need to travel long distances every day to fetch water. 

He persevered for decades and won the government and the other organizations over. He quoted Gandhi saying, "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Finally, you win." 

Till this day, for the last 40 years and more, Roy radiated "the calm contentment of a meaningful life." He found deep fulfillment. He was truly happy. As Seneca puts it: “To live is to be useful to others."

Lesson? Let me be as brief as possible. 

Some readers here may question why I juxtaposition the two lives together? Purposely right? Do I have a bias for one against the other? And I don’t need to tell you for whom the bias is reserved? Please, hold that thought, and let me flesh it out a little bit more.

Roy has nearly completed his journey at 76. Ian is just starting, at 28, although it is a fortune’s fulcrum of a launch for Ian that any of us can only dream of. But mind you, it doesn’t come without hard work, risks and sleepless nights right? 

Roy digs well and trains the poor, starting a school to help them to become self-independent. But Ian too employs hundreds, under the auspices of his company, providing work and economic security for them. And at his young age, if he is well guided, honest and humble, who knows how far he can go in helping society right? 

So, no, there is no bias for one against the other; for Ian still has a long journey to go in his life, and who is to say what it will be in the future for him? 

In essence, both lived out their destiny on earth in the exact way they would have chosen if given a chance to do it all over again. They would not want it any other way. It is theirs to treasure and develop, and to grow in. 

And I juxtaposition them together to show that their lives inspire people in different ways. It all involves industry and commitment, and it is a life exclusive only to them. No doubt some success carries with it a higher risk of derailment in terms of one’s character, and only time will tell, but this post avoids steering towards that rough terrain. 

More importantly, I read about Ian’s and Roy’s lives, and my takeaway is that, we are all accountable for our own lives. 

We may not be living in a GCB or penthouse, or digging well and setting up schools. We may not be as famous as them, but in our own sphere of influence, whether as a friend, father, mother, worker, employer or citizen, we are also providers ourselves, that is, of a roof over our loved ones’ head.

And we are also lending a hand to others in our own journey, very much like digging wells for them, and in our own ways, that is, in the way we live our life, we are teachers too, to those we are responsible for, and who come under our care. 

And I have learned that it is not so much about the numbers of lives touched, but how consistent we are in touching lives, even a handful, so as to make the deepest impact within our own sphere of influence. That is the benchmark of enduring success, and it’s all within our reach. 

Some people have longer reach and some...not that long, but it is the depth we go to reach each soul that counts, and that is, to me, the common denominator amongst us concerning a heart and a life that is always successful, regardless of how wealthy, famous and powerful we are. 

(I mean, look at the almost anonymous and shunned life of Christ. He spent three years out of 33, living and nurturing 12, and look at the impact he has made). 

Indeed, as one wise man said, "Altruism is like rings in the water when you toss a pebble. At first the circles are very small, then they get larger, and finally they embrace the entire surface of the ocean." 

Let the envy within you rot itself and be done away with. But, as for another form of “envy” in the eyes of your loved ones beholding you and your life, for giving to them the time and love, and for sharing your simple journey of faithfulness and sacrifices with them, well, let that encourage lives, warm hearts, and enrich souls. Let that be their light in their own journey of life to travel on.


GCB - Part 2.


Good Class Bungalows ("GCB") are a worthy investment. 

A week back, Secretlab co-founder Ian Ang, 28, bought one (and a penthouse), at $51 million. And if you have the money, it’s prudent to plant it in one of them huge mansions. 

Now, the news is that Grab co-founder Anthony Tan’s wife, Ms Chloe Tong, has just snapped up another GCB. It costs $40 million. It is a house in District 10, Bin Tong Park. It is bought as a family home. 

One real estate director said: “GCBs are very sought after as a status symbol. The newly rich younger generation and new citizens tend to want to get GCBs for their own use.”

I think such purchases will always make the news because it turns heads. It is attention grabbing. It is out of the ordinary. It is not everyday that someone buys a roof over their head that cost an arm and a leg for the average man on the street (not saying that the average man’s arm and leg could afford it anyway). 

Come to think about it, some years back (2019), a few corporate leaders also made the news. And like Ian Ang and Anthony Tan, they were leaders of their own respective fields. They were CEOs and/or founders of companies too.

One of them was Abel Ang, 46. The rest were Joseph Gan (41), Christopher Tan (49) and Joshua Yim (55). 

Abel is the CEO of Advanced MedTech, Joseph the co-founder of V-Key, Christopher, the CEO of Providend, and lastly, Joshua, the CEO of human resource consultancy Achieve Group. And those achievements, by itself, would be newsworthy. 

Yet, they were in the news because they all took the public housing route. Yes, they lived in subsidised housing, that is, HDB. The roof over their heads didn’t cost millions, but it still kept the home warm, the bed soft and the rain from coming in. 

Yet, I can’t deny that GCBs are stellar status symbol and your impression about a person is immediately formed the moment you look at his name and the residential address that comes after that. The rule of thumb is that the shorter the address description, the deeper the impression you have of him. That’s human nature. 

Mind you, and like it or not, we are not where we are today, that is, the relentless progress of modern civilization, because we are all born equal in ability, talent and industry.

Let’s not forget that out of every womb is a person who differs from the next person that comes out in the same way. And the one thing that makes them news worthy is how much different they are from one another. 

That is why the media always shadows the top 1%, and seldom the bottom 50% or the middle in-between, unless they too have a rag-to-riches story to tell. You have to earn your mediagenic stripes right? 

This difference or gap is magnified manifold for those who are born either in privileged circumstances, thereby riding on the fame of their parents’ name, or, by sheer will, ingenuity and some luck, they diligently scale up the corporate ladder of success. To some of them, GCB speaks volumes about their achievements. It is an instant advocacy of their status in society. 

But, for CEO Joseph Gan, status symbol is the least of his concerns. He said: “I did not accept the position of CEO because I wanted to chase after material things. I became a CEO because I wanted to make a difference in what the company can build. I don’t think I need to live in a big house to impress them.”

He added: “We all choose the lifestyle we want to lead. I am very happy and comfortable with mine...There may come a time when we are forced to move to a bigger place to give our children more individualised space as they grow up. But for now, we are very happy living in our HDB flat.” (Maybe that’s the mindset of the well-off and practical?). 

For Abel, CEO of advanced MedTech, he recounted: ““But there were also a few who asked how my family and I could live in such “hardship”. They feared that if they were to live in an HDB flat, or drive an inexpensive car, others might feel these indicators do not befit the success of their firms. Some people also asked that CEOs who live in HDB flats are not giving their subordinates enough to aspire to.””

Abel added: ““I’m not saying others are wrong to aspire towards a more expensive home, but living in an HDB flat has worked for me and my family. And it is certainly not a “hardship””. 

Another CEO, Joshua said: “I understand how CEOs might want to live in a private property just to give their staff something to aspire to, but I don’t think my living in a HDB flat hinders my staff’s aspirations. Everybody has different dreams, and my priorities are my business and the impact I make on the lives of others.”

I guess that sums up my post this morning. Whether it is GCB or HDB, or whether it’s a bungalow or a unit in a block, everybody has different dreams and priorities in life, family, career and business. 

Admittedly, the natural thing to do when you have finally made it in society is to live it up and large. You want to own the whole block in the estate if you have the dough to splurge right? 

Indeed, status symbols, like a palatial mansion and a few sportscar in your own garage, are themselves glowing resume of your standing in society that is written more in kind than words. That is the resume of material achievements many will undoubtedly wish to aspire to. That’s human nature, whether by nature or nurture, or both. 

However, there is another resume that we often overlook, or give less attention to when we are busy building up the other (more tangible) one. It is the resume that other people eulogises about us. And while one resume about us is painstakingly written by us, the other resume is written by others about us. Thus, one resume aims to impress with a certain attitude, and the other aims to express with a sincere gratitude. 

Make no mistakes, in life, you develop both resumes. You want to be the best you can with the resources at hand, and at the same time, you want to live your life giving the best you have for those within your sphere of influence. 

But having said that, the latter (life resume) should always lead the former (achievement resume), because if the order is reversed, your success risks being a pursuit always burdened by constant restlessness.


Here, I am reminded of what Seneca said: “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more that is poor.” 

And I can see no or little remedy for that, when one burnishes his achievement resume at the expense of his life resume. For he may be rich by society’s standard to the envy of many, but his heart will always be poor because the gap for him will never be closed.


The Burden of Knowledge.


The burden of knowledge ought to make you weep. The tears you shed is not wasted. Everyone of them goes to open a new level of depth to your soul. It draws you closer to your broken humanity. It lights a path on the road less travelled, the dark forest you dread. More importantly, it challenges you to face the ghost of your past, the fear of your future and the conscience of your present.

The burden of knowledge is like the mourning song you sing to the rising dawn. While there is a red glow to that knowing, there is also a painful reality unveiling a gap you struggle to bridge. Indeed, the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. And the knowing unlocks the imagination, but the imagination is still. It runs after the gap but the gap always seems to outpace its steps. 

The burden of knowledge is the opposite of bliss. It is true that ignorance covers a multiple of sins, because not knowing shields one from the burden to reform. But, ignorance also narrows one’s freedom to choose, because not knowing the why limits the how to change. So, yes, ignorance is bliss, but so are still waters that run deep. For one is forever a victim of a heart that is always deceived.

But mind you, there is a dark side to the burden of knowledge too. The tears may flow and the hope may glow, but knowledge untethered puffs the ego. It seeks for an audience to multiply, and soon one discovers himself on the other side of the gap, running after a lie.

So, lying before me is the burden of knowledge. Should I walk on by with the bliss of not knowing, or should I pick it up and bear it on my back? Do I seek the refuge that ignorance bring or do I light a candle into the road less travelled? 

I guess this is the great contest of a journey to one’s heart. It is surely a lifetime struggle between a conscience crying out for enduring change and one that turns his face away from Calvary’s pain.


The Wealth Windfall amidst the Pandemic.


There is a cold wind blowing from the pandemic front and it is the wealth windfall greatly benefiting the 1.1 per cent of the global population of 7 billion. 

Assoc Editor Vikram Khanna has written a sobering article about what this weath windfall means to the world at large. 

First, he clarifies that this is not about income inequality. Not about monthly or yearly salary differences that pricks the heart of equality. The stab is the “inequalities in wealth”, that is, “the value of financial and real assets that people own, less their liabilities.” 

Second, Vikram cited real world stats and it is an eye opener. Now, we all know about how the income/wealth gap is increasing but here are the meat in percentage terms to add to our dry bone of contention.

“It estimated that 56.1 million individuals (1.1 per cent of the adult population) each had assets worth more than US$1 million at the end of last year. Their total wealth was US$191.6 trillion.”(Credit Suisse reports last month). 

Put a mental note on 1.1 percent, accumulated total wealth of US$191.6 trillion, with more than US$1 million. Now, how does the rest compare?

“By comparison, 2.9 billion individuals - 55 per cent of all adults in the world - each had wealth below US$10,000. Their total wealth was US$5.5 trillion.”

Vikram concludes: “In other words, the top 1.1 per cent, which holds almost half of all the wealth in the world, had about 35 times the wealth of the bottom 55 per cent.”

That’s not all. Let’s granularise it. 

Singapore, amongst other economically advanced economies like UK, Belgium and Canada, suffered high GDP losses of 7.1%, yet the “high wealth gains averaging 7.7 percent, net of exchange rate consideration.” 

And this is what they mean when they say, the rich are getting richer, or the wealthy has gotten wealthier. 

As for our endearing billionaires, their net wealth has soared 55%, from US$2.95 trillion to US$4.56 trillion.

The cause? 

Well, according to reports, it’s governmental policies, reacting indiscriminately to the pandemic crisis, by flooding the economy with money, which the wealthy immediately capitalises. Vikram puts it this way: -

“The US Federal Reserve and other major central banks slashed interest rates and expanded their asset purchases, flooding the markets with liquidity. Huge fiscal expansions followed. This led to stock market rallies, particularly in the US, where the Standard & Poor's index jumped 16 per cent, with most of the gain concentrated in technology stocks.”

This is what it means by the catchphrase “winners take all, and losers, well, they suck it up.”

The article also goes on to talk about the recent global wealth tax of 15%, with its many drawbacks, and a novel and audacious proposal to tax on companies’ stock at 0.2%. 

They make for a very interesting read and you can read it when you are free. But I’d leave all that for a condensed lesson about the larger scheme of things. 

Lesson. Admittedly, it is hard not to envy the wealthy and famous. In a world where whatever they do comes to your screen at a touch of a button, you will need to be shanghai’ed away into an hermitage in some faraway land to remain oblivious about their heavily advertised opulence and extravagant lifestyles. 

Imagine this, and as Vikram puts it, “as the wealthy got wealthier during the pandemic, hundreds of millions of middle class and the poor got poorer, having lost their jobs and livelihoods, or were furloughed. The World Bank and other multilateral agencies estimate that at least 100 million people either remained poor or were pushed into poverty last year. During the worst of the pandemic, the vast majority of the world's workforce that could not work remotely had the stark choice of either staying at home and earning nothing or going out to work and putting their lives at risk.”

Well, I have been telling myself about contentment, and that is still relevant, if not more so, but at some point, I will be forced to think not just about the wealth gap, but the humanity gap, that is, with so much wealth in their hands, are we then no different from the time of kings and princes, aristocrats and barons in the feudal states between the 9th and 15th centuries? 

Aren’t we then back full circle with the ironic aid of meritocracy, meant initially for the common good, with a big push from the advancement of enlightened knowledge and civilization? 

Question is, if meritocracy, like democracy, is the best flawed system amongst the worst, and the issue is about how to improve it, rather than eradicating it completely, are we catching a glimpse of an evolving or fully evolved system where the one (that is, 1.1%) who directly or indirectly pays the piper (Govt) calls the shot (policy decisions)? 

Another way of putting it is this - “We can have a democratic society or we can have the concentration of great wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both” (Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis). 

And I think we cannot have both because anything that concentrates changes the character of that thing. The concentration of great wealth in the hands of the 1.1% threatens to not only deeply divide society, but elevates the handful to godlike status. 

I suspect there is a foreboding dehumanising effect on the handful, not all though, as the advancement and protection of their immense wealth takes on a possessive and an obsessive hold. Of course, the other 55% (or more) is not immune from such stranglehold arising from sheer deprivation and envy. 

And that is the main perplexing issue when the gap grows beyond the well-intended resolve of policy maker to close it. That widening gap therefore worsens the desperation on both sides, thereby resulting in a crisis on a whole new humanity scale. 

And taking a page of wisdom from Einstein who said, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” maybe there’s a parallel here for our meritocratic system. For we can’t solve problems from within the system that created it in the first place. 

And this may be because the political will to change is often drowned out by the power of money and its influence. Or, maybe those seeking to defend their wealth and position are using the meritocratic system to lull us into accepting or resigning to the matrix-like reality that there is really no other way except the one we have been living in, and we should all just suck it up and make the best of a far-from-ideal situation. And on a wing and a prayer, maybe things might just improve and get rosier in the distant future? for thought?


Jeff Bezos - the Richest Man in the World.

The world’s richest man. That’s Jeff Bezos. Net worth around US$200b. The stuff that dreams are made of. But how did he get there in 27 years? By sheer will, intellect and speed of course. 

His unauthorised biographer, Brad Stone, has written two books about him. His article about the space cowboy (Bezos is retiring to embark on space exploration) surmises the techno-legend as one with “towering intellect, along with a notable deficit of empathy and fear of stasis.” 

Brad describes Amazon as this: “Today, the company is a kind of corporate apeirogon - a shape with infinite sides - extending into new industries on a regular basis, terrifying potential competitors and sending blasts of anxiety across the antitrust establishment.”

With an apeirogon, you can never visionalise its shape because it is always expanding. It multiplies at all sides, and that is how Bezos worked his way up to the top of the human achievement pyramid, enjoying unrivalled wealth. 

His work philosophy is simple. He once told journalist Walter Isaacson that “doing things at high speed, that’s the best defence against the future. If you are leaning away from the future, the future is going to win every time.”

Imagine that, you benchmark your growth not just against getting ahead of competitors, but against a future where things have yet to be invented. You therefore create a tomorrow, that is, a world you are the first to colonise and also the first to reap all the profits that comes with first-mover advantage.

That is Bezos’ philosophy, very much like that of Facebook’s Zuckerberg’s motto - “Move fast and break things.” 

For Bezos, he has coined this term - “Day 2” company. This is what he wrote to his shareholders in 2016 explaining what he meant. “Day 2 is stasis, followed by irrelevance, followed by excruciating, painful decline, followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

Bezos’ Day 1 concept of growth and innovation is the rising of many new dawns, each one like the side of an apeirogon, forever-expanding to capture brave new lands and uncharted terrestrial terrains at the speed of creative light. 

But alas, in chasing a future travelling at the breakneck speed, there is a cost attached to it. Brad wrote: -

“As the fortunes of the company and its founder have increased, their public images have taken a beating. As recent news reports show, Amazon’s workers are often pushed to the limit by arduous goals, arbitrarily changing rules and algorithmic masters, which seem to have little tolerance for human frailty.”

“”Colleagues new and old testify that he has many talents, including a superhuman ability to focus on disparate issues and get to the bottom of complex problems. But empathy was never one of them. "If you're not good, Jeff will chew you up and spit you out," a former executive once told me. "And if you're good, he will jump on your back and ride you into the ground."”

Lesson? Just one. 

Bezos’ retirement plan to travel in his Blue Origin rocket into suborbital space is the perfect metaphor of his apeirogon-like success. While the world below looks on, Bezos is blasting his way to the unbounded universe. 

First, he conquered the market. Second, he created the future. Now, he is exploring space, if not colonising planets; just in case the good old mother earth happens to heave her last breath from climate change. 

On the jaded backs of many, but no doubt duly rewarded, Bezos has rode them all. Each one up to par was given six-impossible-things-to-do-before breakfast, and like one brick after another, each task assigned and completed goes to building a rocket empire ruled by one at the top. 

At the end of the day, when the sun sets and a new dawn rises, Bezos is merely playing the game by its rules, even in uncharted territory. And all’s indeed fair in war and in love, in market and in picket. 

His relentless zeal driven by an idea fully riped for its time has borne not just fruits, but a flourishing Eden garden where he roams with the gods, figure of speech of course. 

But I guess history has seen enough of such glowing personalities from Solomon to Alexander the Great, from King Saladin to King Richard of England, and from the House of Windsor to the Rockefeller dynasty. They come and they go, each time with a bigger bang for the buck, creating endless economic and social ripples. 

Ultimately, whatever decision they make in their life, the biggest one will still be the end-of-life decision. Unfailingly, it is still about leaving your mark in this world as you take your leave eventually. And Bezos has indeed left his, that is, a mark we will find whenever we need to order things online, business acumen and innovation notwithstanding. 

Similarly, we all leave our mark on earth too, taking the same journey ending up not in a suborbital space capsule, but in one much smaller, that is, one that is just right for our body size, and no bigger. 

And when that time comes, for each and everyone of us, let’s pray that we will be remembered for doing the best we can, with whatever we have, for as long as it takes, to make a difference in what matters in the end. 

That in itself is a life worthy of its calling too, even if we don’t end up being the richest man in the world, or one of the richest.